PTSD, Domestic Violence and Sarah Palin (Updates)
Sarah Palin was asked on NBC’s TODAY about the controversial comments she made at a Trump rally on Jan. 20 when she appeared to suggest that president Obama’s lack of “respect” and “honor” for veterans had affected her son’s PTSD condition.
Veterans, veteran’s organizations and mental health experts who know the damaging effects of PTSD have strongly criticized Palin’s use of her son’s domestic violence “as a platform to politicize a condition that affects more than 10 percent of the U.S. military.”
“I never blamed President Obama,” Palin said on Monday.”What I have blamed President Obama in doing, though, is this level of disrespect for the United States military that is made manifest in getting budgets, in not trying to beef it up and let our military do the job that they are trained to do.”
“What did I say that’s offensive. I don’t regret any comment I made because I didn’t lay PTSD at the foot of the president,” she continued.
“I did say, though, and suggested very adamantly, that there is much more that our commander-in-chief could do to prove that he respects our troops and let them do their job.”
Andy Borowitz in a satire piece at The New Yorker “quoted” former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin telling an audience at a Trump rally in Iowa that Obama was “single-handedly to blame” for her defeat in the 2008 general election, “just like [Obama] has defeated so many other great Americans.”
Saying that Palin feels her family paid the price, Borowitz further “quotes” Palin:
I can’t help thinking that, if I had been elected Vice-President, Bristol and Willow wouldn’t have gotten into that drunken brawl and Track wouldn’t have threatened his girlfriend and whatnot…Thanks, Obama.
While the above piece of satire might be funny, what is not satire and certainly not at all funny, is the disgraceful comment Palin made about PTSD, domestic violence and about the President of the United States at a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Palin’s son, Track Palin, 26, was sent to Iraq by President Bush in 2008 and spent a year there.
CNN reports that on Monday, January 18, Track was arrested in Wasilla Alaska and “charged with domestic violence assault on a female, interfering with a report of domestic violence and possession of a weapon while intoxicated, according to Dan Bennett, a spokesman for the Wasilla Police Department.”
ForeignPolicy.com says that, according to a police report, “Drunk, [Track] allegedly beat his girlfriend, held an AR-15 to his head and threatened to kill himself.”
At the Tulsa, Oklahoma, campaign stop, Track’s mother linked her son’s problem to PTSD and used it as political fodder, blaming President Barack Obama.
“My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different,” Sarah Palin said trying to relate to other families who feel “the ramifications” of PTSD and “the woundedness” that our soldiers return with.
“They come back hardened. They come back wondering if there is that respect for what it is that their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military have sacrificially given to this country and that starts at the top,” Palin said.
Palin questioned whether the president knows the sacrifices our military make to “secure America and to secure freedoms” and claimed that she realizes “more than ever” that we need to have “that commander in chief who will respect them and honor them.”
Veterans, veterans organizations and mental health experts who know the damaging effects of PTSD have been quick to come down on Palin’s use of her son’s domestic violence “as a platform to politicize a condition that affects more than 10 percent of the U.S. military.”
Brandon Friedman, the former digital media director for the Department of Veterans Affairs says:
Contrary to caricature, those with PTSD – veterans and non-veterans alike – are simply not ticking bombs who could snap at any moment. Research has shown this time and again…Palin’s remarks strongly suggest otherwise – that people like her son cannot control themselves. In the process, she’s perpetuating an unwarranted stigma that will almost surely cause other veterans with PTSD to hesitate in reaching out for help, especially if they think a diagnosis will hurt their careers.
He also tweets:
Palin said today that her domestic abuser son is a victim of Obama’s neglect for vets. Did she mention the actual victim–the girlfriend?
Paul Rieckhoff, the head of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), also criticized Palin’s comments, tweeting: “We need more programs and less politics to battle PTSD.”
Calling PTSD a “very serious problem” he told NBC News “It’s not President Obama’s fault that Sarah Palin’s son has PTSD” and added, “I hope this doesn’t become a portable chew toy in a political campaign.”
Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran & Chairman, VoteVets, notes that Palin is blaming her son’s domestic violence charges on his deployment to Iraq. “Even though her son was deployed to Iraq by George W. Bush, Palin decided to take this very serious issue, and turn it into a ham-handed partisan attack on President Obama,” he says.
“To use such a serious issue, like PTSD, that too many veterans suffer to try to score political points is a new low…To politicize the matter by using her platform to blame President Obama is just absolutely beyond the pale, and turns what should be a serious discussion into yet another one of her political sideshows,” Soltz says.
When press secretary Josh Earnest was asked Thursday about the President’s reaction to Palin’s comments, Earnest replied:
I don’t know if the President saw the remarks. I can tell you that the reaction of some people I think is to make light of some of the rhetoric that we see on the campaign trail, particularly from Governor Palin. But the fact is domestic violence is not a joke. Gun violence is not a joke. Problems with addiction are not a joke. And the consequences — or I should say the sacrifices that many of our men and women in uniform make for our safety and security are not a joke. And these are issues that this administration is quite focused on. We take them all very seriously.
Even Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush describing the PTSD problem as a “national tragedy” for which “all of us I think have a responsibility to roll up our sleeves,” says, “I don’t think blaming the president is appropriate.”
Lead Image: The National Center for PTSD.
The National Center for PTSD is dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD. If you have gone through trauma or know someone who has, please visit the Center.
I will hopefully be writing about Sponsor A Vet Life (SAVL) in the future.
SAVL is an organization which, in collaboration with entities and professionals in various fields and utilizing virtual reality tools, is helping veterans suffering from PTSD and is trying to reduce the tragic figure of 22 veterans’ suicides per day.